Porntip Buranaprasertsuk took her turn toppling a top seed in a Yonex Japan Open quarter-finals day that saw plenty of upsets, marathon matches and even a little controversy.
By Emzi Regala, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)
“The best defense is a good offense.” This adage appropriately highlights today’s matches. Working around power and speed, the audience was treated to flat exchanges, hard-hitting jump smashes and clever placement of the shuttle, which proved lethal to some and worked wonders to others.
Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (pictured) knows that her much taller and more experienced opponent has very deep smashes that are hard to defend against. That is why the 20-year-old shuttler’s game plan was to speed up the pace and stay at the attacking side.
“I know that if I get stuck with defending, I am never going to win against Tine Baun,” said the very ecstatic Thai after her impressive win over Baun. “I was always conscious of my position on court, making sure I was in the middle to defend both the net and sideline.”
Porntip may have effectively extinguished Denmark’s last flame in this tournament but the veteran Dane went down fighting hard, stretching her younger opponent all the way to a rubber game. A couple of mistakes towards the end however, cost the Dane the match, 21-17, 12-21, 18-21. “It was not my day. She played very well today,” was all Baun could say of her defeat.
Porntip has to carry the Thai flag alone amongst the nation’s strong women’s singles contingent after her higher-ranked compatriot and 3-time World Junior Champion, Ratchanok Intanon went down to Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in surprisingly quick straight games, 16-21, 16-21.
Simon spoils Taufik’s ‘sayonara’ performance
Taufik Hidayat (pictured) hoped for a more fabulous end to his last Japan Yonex Open tournament. But Simon Santoso had other things in mind, immediately unleashing his deadly attacks to overpower the overwhelmed veteran superstar 21-9 in the opening game.
To the crowd’s relief, Taufik found his rhythm and even earned a bit of small breathing room at the second game interval 11-8. It was the fresher legs of Simon Santoso, though, that propelled a big run to break the 14-all tie ending both the match and Taufik’s last Japan Open campaign.
“Of course I am sad about losing,” Taufik told the press. “This tournament is very special to me because this is the home ground of my sponsor Yonex. Also, I’m always grateful to the very warm Japanese crowd who, win or lose, have always cheered for me.
“Simon now has better skills than me. Although I lost, I’m glad that Indonesia is still represented in this tournament. I wish my fellow countryman Simon all the best.”
“I kept the speed at the same time sustained my intensity because I really wanted to win this match. I have nothing to lose against Lee Chong Wei tomorrow, so I will go out there and do my best!” Simon Santoso told Badzine in the post-match interview.
Muscle play does it for Korea
In the heart-stopping 3-game thriller featuring Korean pair of Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang (pictured) against Japan’s Endo/Hayakawa, the former exploited the Japanese duo’s defense, continuously pounding with every opportunity they were given to unleash their powerful smashes. The two Kims took the opener game, 21-17.
To the delight of the huge Japanese supporters, Endo/Hayakawa came back with a 21-19 second game victory. Emotions charged on as the final game progressed. Hayakawa let out a very emotional shout of joy when they scored a point to close the gap 18-14. It was however, the more aggressive Koreans who came out with the big win 21-17 in the final game.
Endo attributed Koreans’ muscle play as the main factor for their loss: “Koreans are very powerful attackers, we could not find a way to stop them.”
“We know that the Japanese are fast so we had to keep up with their pace while making sure that we stand very firmly on our defense”, Kim Ki Jung told the reporters.
Controversy surrounded the last scheduled match of the day, between Japan’s Saeki/Taohata and Indonesia’s Dasuki/Gunawan, the only unseeded pairs in the men’s doubles quarter-finals. Dasuki went out of the court without asking permission from the umpire and was shown a red card. A point was awarded to the Japanese pair and that ended the first game 24-22 and the second game awarded to them as well, effectively winning the match in an unfortunate twist of fate for the Indonesians.
Indonesians mixing it up!
Malaysian mixed doubles pair Tan/Ng did all they can to take down Indonesia’s scratch pairing of Natsir/Rijal. Their efforts went in vain as the Indonesians took two straight games 21-16, 21-18 maintaining an attacking formation that allowed Natsir to rule the net and Rijal, the backcourt.
“This is just a one-time pairing,” explained Natsir, when asked if Rijal – surprisingly, the only one of the pair with a Japan Open title under his belt – were her new permanent partner.
“Incidentally, both our partners are in Indonesia participating in the under-25 national games, so we thought of partnering together. I will re-unite with Tantowi after this tournament.
“Rijal and I are too old to participate in the over-25 national games, so here we are in each other’s arms!” Natsir jokingly told Badzine at the post-match interview.
Natsir/Rijal will face Shintaro Ikeda / Reiko Shiota (pictured) in the semis. The Japanese mixed pair earlier recorded a very impressive victory against Korea’s Kang/Jang.
“I hadn’t had much opportunity to win these past 4 years and I’m very happy that we are performing really well, in fact even better than our stint at the Olympics,” said the beaming Shiota, who also had her share of smash winners during the match.
“Maybe it was because I know that this is the finale of my badminton career, I was much more nervous today than yesterday. I could hardly breathe. Good thing that I was able to transform that into positive energy. It feels good to say: see you tomorrow!”
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